Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194
[Dorp Dead's] Gilly Ground was a lonely orphan boy who decided to stay that way. He felt tough enough to stand many more blows from fate. He obeyed the orphanage rules but would make no friends, muff at games and pretend to be stupid. At last the orphanage gave up on him and sent him to work for Kobalt the ladder-maker, a surly giant, who lived by the clock and who kept a mud-colored dog too dejected to wag his tail. Through the dog Gilly learned that Kobalt was cruel, not just hard-hearted….
This is a grim tale with an exciting climax told in Gilly's own words after he escaped from Kobalt. Now broken out from the cage he had built about himself, he has given up the idea that people can live without love. In the future he will have friends and fun; he will even learn to spell—which is the only clue to the odd title, a hidden joke that explodes into a laugh at the end of this enthralling book. (p. 26)
Aileen Pippett, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1965 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), April 25, 1965.